Prosecutor to investigate after Las Palmas soccer game descends into chaos

Fans invaded pitch during fixture against Córdoba and saw team lose promotion at last gasp

Las Palmas fans throw chairs from the stands.
Las Palmas fans throw chairs from the stands.EFE

A goal in the 93rd minute by Mexican player Uli Dávile won Córdoba promotion to the top-flight of Spanish soccer in extraordinary circumstances on Sunday.

The strike came after referee José María Sánchez Martínez had suspended the play-off match for more than 10 minutes when around 200 fans of opposition side La Palmas invaded the pitch to celebrate their team’s imminent victory. At the time the 1-0 scoreline would have sent the Canarian team up to Primera following the sides’ 0-0 tie in the first leg at Córdoba’s El Arcángel stadium.

With the match stopped and security personnel and police overwhelmed, another group of fans pounded on an exterior gate trying to get into the stadium until suddenly it opened and around 300 more people flooded in. The Las Palmas players were left begging their fans to get off the field of play.

The game was finally restarted and with Las Palmas having lost its concentration, Córdoba scored to tie the match in the last move. “The pitch invasion and the fact the game had to be stopped helped us to tie,” said Córdoba player Raúl Bravo after the game.

The match highlights, including the moment the fans invade the pitch (01:38), the last-minute goal (02:20) and the commotion afterwards.

The referee and his assistants had to be escorted from the scene by police as hundreds of fans occupied the field of play. Las Palmas fans fought among themselves and threw objects from the stand on to the pitch and from the pitch on to the stands. An hour after the final whistle the Córdoba players had still not been able to get back out on to the pitch to celebrate their return to Primera División after 42 years.

On Monday the National Police made public a damning report that criticized Las Palmas’ decision to open the gate before the end of the match and the lack of security deployed. The document was in no doubt that the capacity of the Gran Canaria Stadium had been exceeded and that there had been “overcrowding” in one of the stands. The Las Palmas public prosecutor is now investigating the pitch invasion after learning that thefts, injuries and public order offenses may have been committed.

The report also noted that statements made by Las Palmas club President Miguel Ángel Ramírez in which he initially blamed police for the pitch invasion may constitute an offense of inciting violence against the security forces. A few minutes after the report was published Ramírez retracted his comments and accepted the club’s responsibility for what had happened.

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